A zeugmoid in high office

Elizabeth Joh on Twitter today, reporting this statement from [REDACTED]:

Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.

which she identified as zeugma, though that’s not quite right.

In classic examples of zeugma, a single (token of an) expression must be understood in two different senses at the same time — he put out the light and the cat, with put out doubly construed in this way — but in what I called zeugmoids in a 11/17/10 posting, we have two structurally parallel occurrences of an expression, understood in two different senses: he put out the light and put out the cat. And he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. (Cf. he lost his job and his mind, which is straightforwardly zeugmatic.)

In a 7/13/12 posting “In Praise of the Rolling Stones and Their Zeugmoids”, Ben Zimmer provided more examples. And in response to Joh’s tweet, he offered also a YouTube video, noting that

Q. Pheevr shares this lyric from Connie Smith’s 1964 song “Once A Day”: “She lost the one she loved / Then slowly lost her mind.”

In a further development in Facebook discussion, Larry Selinker asked about the two senses of left in:

Papa was a rollin’ stone;
wherever he laid his hat, was his home.
And when he died,
all he left us was alone.

Also zeugma-like, but in a different way: it’s a kind of bait-and-switch, in which the context sets up an expectation for one sense of an expression (left, in this case), but then the payoff has a different sense.

2 Responses to “A zeugmoid in high office”

  1. Bob Richmond Says:

    Michael Flanders’ “Madeira M’Dear” in “At the Drop of a Hat” employs a series of zeugmata:

    And he said as he hastened to put out the cat,
    The wine, his cigar and the lamps

    She lowered her standards by raising her glass,
    Her courage, her eyes, and his hopes.

    …she made no reply,
    Up her mind, and a dash for the door.


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